Cuyahoga County Funds New Round of Heroin-Overdose Medication Naloxone

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Since 2013, doctors with MetroHealth Medical Center have been training people to administer the drug naloxone to heroin users who have overdosed. Doctors distribute naloxone nasal spray to users, people in recovery and to people whose friends or family are addicted.

The grant will allow MetroHealth to buy 2,000 more naloxone kits. Dr. Joan Papp directs the program, known as Project DAWN, in Cuyahoga County.

“The need is far greater than the resources that we have available to us," Papp said. "This is more than double what we have been able to provide over the last year.”

Papp said the program so far has reversed 108 overdoses.

And the county estimates the rate of growth in heroin deaths slowed last year. Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish says it's estimated the number of heroin deaths in the county did not increase significantly in 2014.

"Today, thanks to that program, thanks to our steadfast EMS workers and thanks to our various police departments, the Cuyahoga County medical examiner estimates that our year to year increase in heroin deaths will be our lowest since 2009," Budish said.

Still, the price of the antidote has jumped with increasing demand.

MetroHealth CEO Dr. Akram Boutros estimates this new supply of naloxone should give the county 12 to 15 months before officials will have to find another source of funding.

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